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08Nov

Modern homebuyers are demonstrating a clear preference for properties that promote eco-conscious living. In fact, according to one study, 89% of prospective buyers are looking for homes that are kind to the planet. This suggests that there is an obvious benefit to upgrading your home’s eco credentials. But before doing so, there are a few things to keep in mind. If you’re looking to sell, read on to discover if you should make your home more eco-friendly first.

It could add value

One of the main reasons why sellers may be reluctant to add new eco-friendly features to their home is the cost implication of doing so. However, making your home greener could ultimately make it more desirable to buyers, boosting its value and providing a favourable return on your investment. While it’s difficult to attach a precise figure to this claim, recent research suggests that upgrading a property’s EPC rating from G to A could boost its value by as much as £40,000.

 

It’s important to consider that the overall added value of any modifications will depend on the specific changes you make. For instance, a large-scale renovation that drastically improves a property’s efficiency and sustainability rating will appeal to customers looking to reduce energy bills. However, smaller improvements that won’t offer too many noticeable benefits to new owners will have less of an impact on the overall value. Think carefully about the cost of any new features and whether or not they’ll attract higher bids from prospective buyers. 

How to do it

If you’re interested in boosting your home’s eco credentials, there are plenty of ways you can do it before putting it on the market. To proverbially kill two birds with one stone, consider tying any maintenance or cleaning work that needs to be done in with your eco upgrades. For example, if you need to give the walls a lick of paint, look to use low or no-VOC paints that leave less of a stain on the environment. Plus, freshly painted walls will go a long way to boosting your home’s curb appeal.

 

Similarly, if you need to give the furniture a refresh, look for ways you can upcycle your old items, or buy high-quality second-hand furniture. Before putting your property on the market, you’ll want to have it looking its best. Fortunately, tidying up your home can go hand in hand with making some eco improvements, so be sure to carefully plan your maintenance tasks to get the maximum benefit. 

What are the drawbacks? 

There are of course a few things you’ll need to consider before deciding whether or not to go ahead with your pre-sale eco renovation. First and foremost, think carefully about the ROI of any new feature. For example, solar panels can be a really effective option for homeowners looking to reduce both their carbon footprint and utility bills. However, these systems cost thousands of pounds to install, and studies show that it can take around six to ten years before you even start to breakeven. 

 

Plus, large-scale renovations in certain properties may need planning permission or authorities’ approval before going ahead. When you’re looking to sell and time is of the essence, you won’t necessarily want to be waiting for the green light to make any modifications. If you’re looking to sell quickly, consider some smaller changes, such as switching to LED light bulbs, utilising smart technology, and installing low-flow water features. 

Should you commit to eco-friendly upgrades? 

Ultimately, it all depends on your personal circumstances and the sort of changes you’d look to make. Any eco-friendly features within your property can make it more appealing to buyers, but don’t look to install things for the sake of. Carefully consider what upgrades you’d like to make, and whether or not it’d impact the property’s value, and you’ll be able to make an informed decision on whether or not it’s worth the investment of your time and money. 

 

Either way, even if there isn’t an immediate and obvious financial benefit, committing to eco-friendly installations within your home is a positive investment regardless, since it’ll help to drive more positive environmental change. 

 

06Nov

Selling your property is one of life’s many challenges facing homeowners, and with the evolving housing markets of today, it can prove even more unpredictable. However, selling properties after the owner has passed away is arguably even more complicated and, for many, incredibly daunting. 

 

However, with the right guidance, the process can be more manageable and not overly complicated.

 

If you have ever wondered how to sell a probate property, or are facing this task imminently, look no further as this guide is here to help you. This short step-by-step guide will cover all the key considerations that you need to be aware of, along with tips for selling a UK probate property with minimal disruption and stress.

Get Legal Advice From The Outset

The first thing you should do is seek legal advice from solicitors and property experts who have experience dealing specifically with probate sales. They will be able to provide tailored guidance based on the unique circumstances surrounding the property, owner and sale. Having this support early on will ensure the process goes as smoothly as possible.

 

A solicitor can help with various aspects, including applying for probate and obtaining legal authority to deal with the estate. They can also navigate any tax implications or considerations surrounding the property sale, or if they do not handle that in-house, they can refer you to trusted partners that can oversee these aspects. Additionally, trusted legal professionals can oversee the valid transfer of property ownership and any associated conveyancing processes.

Understand The Probate Process

Before putting the property on the market, it’s important to have a basic understanding of the probate procedure.

 

  • Probate officially recognises someone’s last will and testament and gives authority to the executors to handle the estate as set out in the will. Interestingly, recent reports show that less than half of UK adults currently have a will.

 

  • To obtain probate, you’ll need to locate the latest valid will, apply to the probate registry, pay any inheritance tax owed and submit the various legal paperwork.

 

  • The process usually takes around 3-6 months to fully complete, but more complicated property and assets may delay the completion process.

 

  • In certain circumstances, you may be able to obtain special legal permission to sell the property before probate is fully granted. Your appointed solicitor can provide guidance and accurate timescales for this.

Value The Property

To determine an accurate listing price, you’ll need to get the property professionally valued by a third party. You can approach a local estate agent to assess the home, who can look at similar home sales in the region to gauge current market value. 

 

You can also commission an independent valuation from a chartered surveyor which will involve a thorough inspection to identify any issues that could influence property value. These reports are not the same as estate agent valuations.

 

Fundamentally, comparable local properties to yours can be viewed on property portals like Rightmove and Zoopla but these are NOT guaranteed or sold prices. Be sure to factor in any restorative or renovation work as this can influence the final valuation and sale price.

Prepare The Property For Sale

Before putting the property on the market, some essential preparation may be required. For starters, you might have to declutter and stage the property so it presents in the best possible light to viewers

 

First impressions count and prospective viewers will want to see the listed home in a tidy, clean and clutter-free way, with any minor renovations to fix damage and wear and tear commissioned or done before viewings. 

 

You will also need to have a valid Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) for the listing so prospective vendors can get an idea of the property and its energy efficiency. Partnering with a reputable estate agent can help take this administrative burden off your hands.

Decide On The Method Of Sale

There are a few options when it comes to selling probate property. Most sellers will go through an estate agency that will market the property, handle viewings, negotiate offers and liaise with solicitors to progress the sale as quickly and efficiently as possible.

 

If a will was not drawn up and a person died ‘intestate’, a seller might choose to put the property up for sale in an auction.

 

Other options for sale include all interested parties submitting their best and final offer or a tender or sealed bid situation. Your estate agent should talk you through all the options for sale and disucss with you the one that best suits your situation.

 

For probate sales and complicated wills, it may be most prudent to go with an approved estate agent to ensure a seamless transition.

List The Property For Sale

When listing the property, ensure full transparency about its probate status. Ensure that all prospective viewers are aware of whether probate has been granted or not, with any deadlines or restrictions clearly communicated in listings and during viewings (if they proceed).

Review All Offers Carefully

When an offer comes in, don’t rush to accept it as a means to conclude the probate process as quickly as possible. Talk this through with your estate agent and your solicitor and carefully consider the offer amounts. Be mindful of how quickly a buyer can complete and whether they themselves are experiencing any delays which could impact the completion of the probate property you are selling.

Progress Sale Completion

Once an offer is accepted, the buyer, in accordance with their own mortgage provider (if they are having a mortgage) and conveyancing solicitors’ requirements, will often need to conduct surveys of their own to progress the house purchase.

 

Your solicitor will liaise with you about contract details and exchanging of information with the buyers’ firm, advising you of any alterations if need be. For instance, you may need to amend exchange amounts if a survey highlights issues that need addressing, or if the buyer pulls out due to their inability to obtain sufficient financing or encounter other difficulties.

Your estate agent will remain engaged with you and your solicitors throughout this process to ensure everything proceeds smoothly through to completion.

Adhere to Probate Requirements

Remember, you have a legal duty when selling a probate property. This means:

  • Following all probate rules and procedures, even if it causes delays.

  • Not distributing sale proceeds until you have permission.

  • Keeping accurate records for the estate administrators and executors.

 

Cutting corners could put you at significant legal risk, so take your probate obligations seriously and work with a reputable, professional estate agent and soliciotrs to make the whole process as smooth as possible.

 

For more information just get in touch with us.





29Oct

The clocks changing and evenings growing longer mean we can put off winter no longer: with that comes a usualy quieter housing market. Especially after the year of high inflation and even higher interest rates we have seen in 2023.

This reality is reflected in this month’s insights from Propertymark, the largest professional trade body for estate agents. We have access to the organisation’s data, compiled by estate agents dealing daily with buyers and sellers.

Housing market overview

It’s not that the news is bad – actually, the housing market remains more robust than many would have anticipated given the state of the wider economy. But agents are seeing fewer sales being done, buyers being more cautious, and prices dipping slightly.

There’s no need for pessimism but it’s clear that housing market realities mean anyone selling now needs the expertise of a professional and skilled agent more now than at any time since the pandemic.

 

The sales market data

Over recent weeks the housing market data is showing up that there’s been a reduction in buyer numbers registering with each Propertymark branch. On average it’s down to 60 from a high of 81 in August. And the number of viewings per property over the month remained static in September at two, which is lower than the 18-month rolling average of three.

The number of homes newly listed for sale at each Propertymark branch has decreased too, from 13 to 11. Although that is actually above the 12-month rolling average of nine.

Meanwhile, the average number of market appraisals (which gives us a good idea of the future supply of homes going on sale) has dropped to 20 from 25.

Each branch currently agrees about eight sales on average over a month. This is in fact a pretty typical figure for this time of year.

But unsurprisingly very few now sell for above the asking price while the time taken to exchange contracts is getting worse. Agents say it’s not unusual for it to be 17 weeks or more. This is because buyers are more cautious, instruct surveyors to check properties and work hard to get the best mortgage deal in the current high-interest rate environment.

We’re clearly a long way from the heady days when multiple buyers were vying for each home on sale, with quick deals often at above the asking price: but we’re also a long way from a crash.

Most house price indices and reputable forecasters say prices have dipped less than five per cent. And remember, if that means your home would sell for less than before, it also means your next purchase will probably be cheaper too.

 

The rental market data

There’s no prize for guessing what’s happening in the rental market. Unfortunately there is no end in sight to the supply of rental property lagging far, far behind demand.

Propertymark’s chief executive, Nathan Emerson, speaks for many (including tenants obliged to pay high rents) when he says: “Governments across the UK continue to tinker with legislation and legislative programs, disincentivising landlords along the way. That means supply remains tight with far more applicant registrations than properties available”.

In terms of numbers, new prospective tenants registered per agency branch dropped to 96 in recent weeks from 121 in August. But this is most likely due to seasonal fluctuations – for example, students who were registering over the summer.

The average number of properties available to rent per branch is now broadly the same as in August at 11 properties, and this remains woefully under the level of demand.

The upshot is that rents stay stubbornly high but my advice to landlords is not to overestimate tenants’ ability to pay. It’s clear that affordability is the big issue now in the lettings sector, with many tenants lacking savings or other sources to fund ever-increasing rents.

 

What’s ahead for the housing market?

The reminder that the festive season is looming large has a serious point to it.

Housing markets everywhere become much quieter towards Christmas as we’ll see in the coming weeks and in the current climate it would be easy to interpret this as another bad sign. But it isn’t – it’s what happens as buyers and sellers put plans on ice until next year.

Read the latest Propertymark Housing Insight Report here. 

We are here every step of the way to guide and advise you on all things property - simply get in touch with us on 01364 652652 or email me directly katie@sawdyeandharris.co.uk.

Source : MoveIQ and Propertymark

28Oct

The Renters Reform Bill finally resumed its journey through Parliament with the Second Reading of the Bill on 23 October, which passed without a vote due to cross-party support. The latest news is that the Bill will progress to the Committe Stage through the House of Commons, which will start following the King’s Speech on 7 November.

The cross-party Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Select Committee originally published its report, Reforming the Private Rented Sector, on 9 February 2023. The Government finally issued its overdue formal response on Friday 20 October, at the eleventh hour before the Second Reading debate of the Bill in the House of Commons on the following Monday, 23 October. Just in time before Parliament was prorogued on 26 October.

The Government response was released six months after the publication of the Select Committee report, instead of the usual two. Michael Gove apologised for the delay in the Second Reading debate. There are signs that the publication of the response was rushed as there are duplicate paragraphs on page 10 and some typos.

As well as announcing two key changes to the Renters Reform Bill, the response shed further light on Government plans for other matters in the Renters Reform Bill, together with additional matters that affect the PRS, but aren’t in the Bill.

Two changes to Renters Reform Bill announced in Government response

After waiting six months to publish its response to the Levelling Up Select Committee’s recommendations, the Government only agreed to one small modification to the Renters Reform Bill, and a delay to the implementation of one key aspect.

Here are the two principal concessions to the recommendations of the Select Committee:

1. Linking of abolition of Section 21 to court reform

Implementation of the new system will not take place until we judge sufficient progress has been made to improve the courts. This means we will not proceed with the abolition of section 21, until reforms to the justice system are in place.
Government Response to Select Committee Report on Reforming the PRS (October 2023)

The abolition of Section 21 was in the Conservative Party election manifesto in 2019. According to the White Paper, A Fairer Private Rented SectorSection 21 was always due to be implemented on the second implementation date, at least 18 months after Royal Assent (say the end of 2025 or the spring of 2026). Yet despite this delay in implementation that was built into the transition arranges, the court system will apparently not be ready in time for what would have been the likely implementation date at least two years from now.

The Government response gives no information as to exactly how “sufficient progress” will be assessed. Instead, the section on court reform refers vaguely to “digitising more of the court process”, “exploring the prioritisation of certain cases, including antisocial behaviour”, improving the bailiff system and providing “early legal advice and better signposting for tenants.” Certainly no SMART objectvies here!

There is no detail what “digitising” means (other than it will apparently be “end to end”), or how the prioritisation of cases will work. It also doesn’t explain how the new grounds of possession will be made “faster and easier to prove”.

2. New Ground for Possession for student tenancies

We recognise that the student market is cyclical and that landlords must be able to guarantee possession each year for a new set otf tenants, and we will introduce a new ground for possession to facilitate this.
Government Response to Select Committee Report on Reforming the PRS (October 2023)

The Government did not accept the Select Committee’s recommendation that fixed-term tenancies be retained for the entire student market (not just purpose built student accommodation). DLUHC justified this by saying that “retaining fixed terms would unfairly lock students into contracts, meaning they could not leave if a property is poor quality or their circumstances should change”.

Instead, DLUHC proposes introducing a “ground for possession that will facilitate the yearly cycle of short-term student tenancies”. The response does not clarify whether this would be a mandatory or discretionary ground, or how much notice the landlord will need to give the tenant. Under the new Section 8, notice ranges from two weeks to two months, apart from the new Ground 7A (severe antisocial behaviour) and Ground 14 (antisocial behaviour), which will both be immediate.

Whilst this is a welcome step, failing to allow fixed term periods for student tenancies will leave many student landlords with voids from after the exam period in May until the start of the new academic year at the end of September. In order to receive the same annual income, student landlords will probably cost in the longer void periods by increasing the monthly rent. Let’s hope that this issue is revisited in the Committee Stage.

What’s new in the Government response to Levelling Up Select Committee?

1. Government plans to improve court possession process

The Government did not accept the Select Committee’s recommendation to introduce a specialist housing court, but “recognises the importance of making sure that the process is as smooth and efficient as possible”.

We are working closely with the Ministry of Justice and HM Courts and Tribunal Service to drive forward improvements to the court possession process so that users have a modern, digital service that will align with the reforms to tenancy law.
Government Response to DLUCH Committee Report on Reforming the PRS (October 2023)

No timings for the improvements were given in the response. However, given that the abolition of Section 21 wasn’t due to come into effect for some time in any event (late 2025 / early 2026, depending on Royal Assent), reading between the lines, we must be looking at perhaps even 2027 or 2028 before the court reforms will be complete. If the opinion polls are to believed, it is highly conceivable that this will be under a new Government.

2. Antisocial Behaviour Grounds for Possession

The response contains two identical paragraphs on page 10 (suggesting rushed proof-reading) that they would “expand the principles that judges must take account of when deciding if an eviction is reasonable”. They give the examples of giving “more weight to the impact on victims and whether the tenant has failed to engage with other interventions to manage their behaviour”.

DLUHC rejected the Select Committee’s recommendation to make Ground 14 (non-criminal antisocial behaviour) mandatory as this would require a list of specific behaviours in legislation. They did not, for instance, propose widening Ground 7A to include more examples of antisocial behaviour, and leave the less severe cases to the discretion of the judge.

3. More detail on what to take into account with pet requests

DLUHC rejected the Select Committee’s proposal to drop the new implied right to request to keep a pet. Instead, the response gives examples of the factors which they anticipated landlords would take into account when making their decision.

The examples were the size of the pet and property, whether the property or common parts are shared with other tenants (this is likely to mean HMOs or flats), allergies or phobias and, “if relevant, access to outdoor space”. A landlord “could likely refuse” if the animal was too big for a small property or if another tenant in a shared house had an allergy or phobia. In other words, no blanket ban for HMOs.

4. Update on the Privately Rented Property Portal

It is clear that the design of the Property Portal is far from complete. Even the compliance information that landlords will need to upload is not confirmed. For instance, compliance information “could” include gas and electrical safety certificates. The Government is “considering” that landlords self-certify compliance with the Decent Homes Standard (which has still not been published).

They “expect” the penalty system to be “tiered”, with different penalties for different offences. They are also “considering” data collection options “that will minimise the burden on private landlords”, by using “existing datasets where possible”. Presumably this means EPCs.

5. Government will review selective licensing once Property Portal is “fully operational”

There is no commitment to abolish selective licensing; only that they will “review” it, once the portal is “fully operational”.

Next step for the Renters Reform Bill: The Committee Stage

The next stage for the Bill is the Committee Stage, when the Bill will be scrutinised line by line. Given that Parliament has now been prorogued until after the King’s Speech on 7 November, the Committee Stage will start in the second or third week of November.

Stages still to come

The Report Stage and Third Reading will follow the Committee Stage, after which the process begin again in the House of Lords.

As a carry over motion was passed, the Bill will automatically carry over to the next Session of Parliament, which starts on 7 November.

Sources: Propertymark and Suzanne Smith - The Independent Landlord

08Oct

Whether you’re a new homeowner or have been living in your home for a few years, carrying out maintenance work is critical. As the place you spend every day, regular home maintenance is beneficial for saving money in the long run, raising the value of your property, creating a safe and comfortable home and increasing the longevity of your appliances.

 

It can be tricky to know where to begin with maintenance work on your home. Read on to find out our top tips for carrying out DIY tasks.

 

Caring for your home changes from season to season, depending on the weather and the appliances you use. To stay organised, write up a home maintenance checklist for every season and tick the tasks off gradually through the year. 

 

Winter tasks can range from keeping the gutters clean, and servicing the boiler to inspecting your home for any leaks due to the weather. Whilst summer tasks can include checking your water supply status, fixing the garden and inspecting any type of fan usage. With a useful list, it’ll save you from wasting time and forgetting vital tasks at home throughout the year.

 

 

Maintenance of the home can range from simple, everyday tasks we can all do, to other jobs where a professional is needed. Similar to the maintenance jobs list, also create a handy list of local and trustworthy professionals who can do the jobs you’re not skilled for. This can include servicing your boiler, cleaning out gutters, repairing the driveway, painting the exterior of the house and cleaning the chimney. With a professional on hand, you’ll have the confidence of a job done correctly.

Appliances are incredibly useful in everyday life, from hoovers, ovens, and washing machines to the fridge. With regular use comes regular maintenance, meaning a deep cleaning process or sending for repairs when needed. If you don’t regularly clean or repair appliances they can cause damage, either minimal or extensive, depending on the appliance. 

 

You don’t need to be deep cleaning them all the time but once a month or once every two months can help immensely. Put a date in your calendar to keep you organised. For example, cleaning your washing machine can be done every six months, whilst your fridge every month.

 

Our home is our haven and it’s necessary to protect and keep ourselves safe from common faults or hazards. Maintenance is the key to prevention before any issues are unable to be resolved or any faults cause serious damage to the home and people living in it. Caring for your home’s maintenance is a priority for every homeowner because it improves the safety, and the overall look and assures you that issues are less likely to occur.

 

With a checklist in place, a contact list acquired and regular cleaning days, your home maintenance will become a part of your everyday life – and seem a lot less of a hindrance than you think.

 

We are here to guide and advise you, every step of the way - simply get in touch on 01364 652652 or email me directly katie@sawdyeandharris.co.uk for professional property advice.

 

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